Lamayuru remains my top favorite among all the places I’ve visited in the Ladakh region, particularly near the town of Leh!
I remember the first time I visited Lamayuru, it was back in 2015. I wasn’t blogging back then, but I had recently quit my job as was on an indefinite leave to travel around India. I reached Leh as a solo backpacker, met two other solo backpackers there, and the three of us quickly planned to hitchhike all the way from Leh to Srinagar.
Our first stop happened to be Lamayuru.
My First Visit To Lamayuru
Our original plan was to stay in Lamayuru for just a night (as a 2-hour journey can take about 6 hours in an Indian oil truck on those roads) but ended up staying in Lamayuru for more days than I can remember. Lamayuru has some kind of charm that grips you the moment you get there.
The town’s surrounding landscapes, otherwise known as The Moonland, has some kind of meditative power in them. You look at them from a distance and you want to keep looking forever.
I remember when I first visited Lamayuru, there wasn’t much but a couple of homestays and a monastery to eat and drink butter chai. But this time as I revisited Lamayuru, things had changed (though, of course, keeping its original charm intact).
So this time, as I was returning after a motorcycle trip from Shinkula Pass and Zanskar Valley that made me ride from Kargil to Leh, I decided to spend a night in Lamayuru and see how much has the town has changed.
To my surprise, there were more guest houses and homestays that I could count. The roads connecting Lamayuru looked broader, and there were enough Israeli and European backpackers even in the lowest tourist season. The Lamayuru Monastery, to my disappointment, also started charging an entry fee. In short, Lamayuru started giving stronger hints of an emerging tourist destination. Busy locals moreover had no time to share a Happy Jullay and start an inviting conversation.
So yea, Lamayuru, in just a 4 years felt different, but it still a pretty good escape from the maddening Leh.
If compared to Leh, Lamayuru still offers a quieter and peaceful experience, all while keeping the original feel the same – a 100% Buddhist town, a strong Ladakhi culture, a moonland landscape, a centuries-old monastery, and much more to complete a true Ladakh experience. And the best part is, it is located only 2 hours drive from Leh.
To give you an idea, Lamayuru is located exactly in the middle of Leh and Kargil. If Leh to Kargil is a 4-hour journey, Leh to Lamayuru is 2 hours, and so is Lamayuru to Kargil. It is moreover the last Buddhist town if you’re doing Leh to Kargil (or further towards Srinagar).
What To See And Do In Lamayuru
Unlike in Leh, you won’t find a big market and fancy cafes in Lamayuru. It’s a place for those who appreciate the idea of going slow.
Lamayuru monastery is the main attraction in the town, that happens to be one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh, with many stories and legends associated with it.
If you happen to visit during the 2nd and 5th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, you can experience the two popular annual monastic festivals of Yuru Kab Gyat and Hemis Tse Chu including sacred rituals and dance performances.
Lamayuru monastery houses around 150 Buddhist monks, though there used to be more than 400 earlier.
Apart from spending some time at the monastery, just wander around in the town and sharer an exuberant smile with the local Ladakhis. Simply break eyes by saying “Julley” (Hello in Ladakhi) and you will see a conversation will follow.
It is also possible to go on a hike nearby and experience walking on moon-like craters.
And here’s a quick video of my visit to Lamayuru: